Two Lies: the deer

creep as only deer can
they don’t consider it creeping though –
we parade on their backs
high gloss   patina-on-death
like palanquins for heartbreak
but I suspect their hearts hold only
tubers sinew bone and teeth 

                         on the last day
                         you didn’t know me anymore
                         from under the morphine’s heavy brocade

so the deer (unmoved) move   are moved
through patterns of light and sound
by some deer-shaped force within;
or they’re still as the character for deer
always bending its fine head
to the ground forever

                         or maybe
                         you knew but couldn’t say
                         mixing as you were
                         with light and sound
                         your words moving away

no the deer in lacquered heels creep
crowned in grief through bracken halls
they creep towards us
under dimmet’s low eaves
embroidered with sorrow
they’re creeping for us 

                         and yes
                         it’s me hold me close
                         hold me higher still
                         I’m coming I’m home
                         I’ll see you soon

by Krystelle Bamford

Our latest podcast features Jennifer Wong, who talks to Niall Munro about her exciting new collection Letters Home 回家. Jennifer reads and talks about three poems, and explores topics such as the Chinese family, her use of Cantonese and English languages in the poems, her formal choices, and the challenges of writing about the recent Hong Kong protests. You can listen to the podcast here, and subscribe via Apple PodcastsSpotify, or Google Podcasts.

The Poetry Centre has launched its International Poetry Competition for 2020! We’re delighted to say that our judge this year is the Forward Prize-winning poet Fiona Benson. As always, we have two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language. The winners receive £1000, with £200 for the runners up. The deadline for entries is 14 September. For more details and to enter, visit our website

‘Two Lies: the deer’ is copyright © Krystelle Bamford, 2020. It is reprinted from Primers Volume Five (Nine Arches Press, 2020) by permission of Nine Arches Press. Read more about the book here, and join Nine Arches and the poets for the online book launch on Monday 3 August, which will be live-cast to the Nine Arches YouTube channel at 7.30pm. We’ll be sharing poems from the other two poets featured in the latest volume of Primers over the next fortnight.

Krystelle Bamford’s poetry has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Under the Radar, and a number of anthologies. She was awarded a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Raised in the US, she now lives in Scotland where she has worked at Canongate Books, completed a Creative Writing MLitt at the University of St Andrews, and gave birth to two wee, radge kids. You can read more about Krystelle’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.

In 2019, Nine Arches Press launched their nationwide Primers scheme for a fifth time, in search of exciting new voices in poetry, with Jacqueline Saphra and Jane Commane as selecting editors. After reading through hundreds of anonymous entries, and narrowing down the choices from longlist to shortlist, three poets emerged as clear choices: Krystelle Bamford, Claire Cox, and Hannah Jane Walker.

Primers Volume Five now brings together a showcase from each of the three poets. At the core of these poems are the milestones and critical moments of our lives and, vitally, the ties that bind us to those we love: from childhood and daughterhood, through motherhood in all its array of emotions and experiences, and to beloved brothers and fathers. From the tides of grief to surfing the wave of birth, these often courageous and candid poems are distinctive in their engagement with fear, loss and self-discovery, and how they emerge afresh, bold and illuminating. An essential, insightful collection of new work from some of poetry’s most talented emerging voices. Read more about the book on the Nine Arches website, and join Nine Arches and the poets for the online book launch on Monday 3 August, which will be live-cast to the Nine Arches YouTube channel at 7.30pm.

Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin’s book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2017, All My Mad Mothers by Jacqueline Saphra was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. Our titles have also been shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Prize, and in 2016 David Clarke’s debut poems, Arc, was longlisted for the Polari Prize. To date we have published over ninety poetry publications. Read more about the press here and follow Nine Arches on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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